Do space heaters save you money?

FRESNO, Calif.

When it comes to space heaters, there are lots of choices. There are floor models, and this one you can also mount on the wall. And then there's the heat surge that looks like a fireplace.

Consumer reports has tested 13 space heaters ranging in price from about $30 to more than 500. Most are 1,500 watts.

"Heaters that use the same amount of watts produce the same amount of heat. But they differ on how well they can maintain a set temperature and what features they offer," Jim Nanni said.

Testers use this special chamber to assess space heaters. Sensors measure the temperature in different parts of the room, checking how evenly heat is distributed.

The $550 heat surge wound up at the bottom of consumer reports' ratings.

"The Heat Surge lacks a thermostat. That's what helped the best heaters we tested stay within three degrees of the set temperature," Nanni said.

The $35 Soleusair heater didn't have a thermostat either a key feature at any price.

In the end, top ratings went to this $70 heater from Honeywell. It's model HZ817. It's excellent at controlling temperature and it has a helpful temperature display.

But consumer reports says don't count on it, or any space heater, to slice your heating bills on its own.

Unless you turn the heat down in the whole house and just use a space heater in one or two rooms, you won't see much of a savings.

Adding insulation, especially in the attic, is a far better way to cut your energy costs.

Safety features on electric heaters have improved. Nevertheless, they're linked to thousands of fire-related injuries and deaths each year.

Consumer reports says never leave a space heater unattended. And before using one, check the power cord to be sure it's in good condition. And you never want to use an extension cord.

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